It is habit for most of us to begin our day with a cup of coffee. Wake up, grab a bite to eat, and always ensuring we grab our coffee. It’s habitual, and for some of us, it’s even addictive. As you go through your morning routine, do you reach for a glass of water as well? If your answer is no, then maybe it’s time to reconsider.
The human body is made up of at least 60% water, (give or take.) Your body DEPENDS on water to survive and to maintain homeostasis. Ensuring that you are supplying your body with adequate hydration is key to sustaining healthy functioning.
Health Benefits of Water
Water does a lot more than just keep us from feeling thirsty. Water is responsible for continuing to guarantee that our cells, tissues, and muscles work properly.
Temperature Regulation and Tissue Care:
Some of the function of water in the body include: regulating your body’s temperature to prevent overheating. This function is done through perspiration. In addition to core temperature regulation, water helps to lubricate your body’s joints. Without water, our tissues would not be properly nourished and would not be able to function normally, preventing them from helping to support our own joint health.
Not only does our body use water to remove waste through perspiration, it also does this through defecation and urination. Water is essential in our kidney health. The kidneys are responsible for excreting waste from the body. This waste includes urea, as well as other acids. Water is vital in kidney function. Without proper fluid levels, kidney functioning is disrupted and the waste products typically filtered by these organs can begin to build up inside the body. Most individuals who suffer from kidney stones, are attributed to lack of fluid (water) in the body.
Though water is not absolutely necessary in digestion, it is helpful in expediting the process. Water aids in the breakdown of food which increases the rate of digestion. Water also helps your body digest soluble fiber and makes minerals more attainable. With water, fiber is broken down easier making stools easier to pass.
How Much Water Should You be Drinking?
This may seem like a simple question, but the answer is much more complex. Hydration levels vary greatly depending upon the individual. There are many factors to take in such as:
- Physical activity level
- Perspiration rates
- Muscle Mass
- Fat Mass
- Fat Free Mass
If an individual has had DEXA scans previously performed on them and have access to a breakdown of their body’s composition, then this would be extremely beneficial in determining exact amounts of necessary fluid hydration.
For those of us who do not have access to such testing, then it is best to listen to the experts. According to the Mayo Clinic, adequate fluid intake for individuals would be:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
Many of us have heard the phrase to drink about 8 ounces of water a day. This is an adequate amount for most individuals to drink, and not a bad model to follow. Just through our food consumption alone, we intake water. Especially depending upon each individuals’ diets. FOr those who consume a high fruit and vegetable diet, they receive much more water from food comparative to those who eat a high meat and salt diet. Water from food contributes about 20% of your body’s total water needs daily.
Factors That Influence Hydration Levels:
There are a multitude of components that can affect an a person’s individual hydration needs. These factors can vary depending upon the individual as well. Take for example exercise. Each person has a different requirement for hydration level status during a bout of activity. Exercise hydration status depends on perspiration rates as well. Other factors to consider when trying tt plan hydration for exercise would be to take into account would be the exercise length of time and intensity. If you plan to sweat a lot, you may want to consider taking in a sports drink that contain essential electrolytes lost during activity. You also will want to have a drink (sports drinks) that contain some sodium concentration. Always remember: water follows where salt goes!
Another factor that affects hydration levels would be the environment. Each climate calls for its own hydration practices. Take for example arid, dry environments versus hot and humid climates. Humid environments cause individuals to sweat more and therefore experiences higher water losses. Taking in more water can help prevent dehydration side effects from occuring. Differences in elevation can also affect hydration status. High altitude environments (5,000 feet and above) require an intake of more water. Your body’s current state of health can alter hydration status. When an individual runs a fever, your body can experience a large deficit in water losses for every degree above normal body temperature. Water loss is also experienced in both vomiting and diarrhea. In the event of extreme sickness, it is also best to consult with your doctor! A planned hydration replacement regime may be needed.
Always listen to your body, it knows what it needs! If you’re thirsty, drink. If you’re not…well you still probably should drink some water. There are many ways for us to ensure that we are consuming enough water each day, whether through our food or other liquid beverages. Be sure to remember though, that water is always the best source to replace and restore our hydration levels!